Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Clinical applications of visual analogue scales: a critical review

Heather M. McCormacka1 c1, David J. de L. Hornea1 and Simon Sheathera1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne and Statistical Consulting Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia


Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) provide a simple technique for measuring subjective experience. They have been established as valid and reliable in a range of clinical and research applications, although there is also evidence of increased error and decreased sensitivity when used some subject groups. Decisions concerned with the choice of scoring interval, experimental design, and statistical analysis for VAS have in some instances been based on convention, assumption and convenience, highlighting the need for more comprehensive assessment of individual scales if this versatile and sensitive measurement technique is to be used to full advantage.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Heather M. McCormack, Department of Psychiatry, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia, 3052.